BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Cyclists, joggers and walkers will no doubt be excited to hear that a couple of dangerous detours along the East Bay Bike Path will soon be a thing of the past.

State and local leaders gathered Monday to break ground a project to replace the bridges that carry the bike path over the Barrington and Palmer rivers.

Each new bridge will be about 300 feet long and 14 feet wide. The old bridges were converted in the 1980s from railroad bridges dating back to the 1880s. Both were closed in 2019 due to safety concerns.

“The bike path gets so much use and when this section closed down it became a real safety issue,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said. “Replacing the bridges is a major capital investment that will pay off for generations.”

“So many people use it to get around, particularly school children,” Laura Ward of Barrington added.

Since the bridges closed, pedestrians and bike riders have had to detour a hundred yards to County Road, navigate two busy intersections, and cross the river beside car traffic. “Temporary path enhancements” costing $2 million were installed last year.

“They made it safer with the workaround, but it’s still kind of awkward,” Ward added. “You’re going by telephone poles with padding on them.”

The project is expected to cost $24 million. Officials said $14 million will be federally funded, while the remaining $10 million was recently “moved up” in the state’s 10-year plan to fix bridges.

The work is scheduled to start next spring or summer, and the entire project is expected to be completed in late 2025.

The East Bay Bike Path is 14.5 miles long and runs from Providence to Bristol.